Friday, August 03, 2007

Late Night thoughts: Head shaking edition

I wrote a comment to the following post by Matthew. The point I was raising was ancillary to the main thrust of his post---which argued conservatives understand liberals better than the reverse. As I said in my comment, I really have no opinion on that particular assertion.

My comment had to do with the following.

Matthew wrote:
And it is surely not the same for Wilberians, who think they know everything integrally but (at least as exampled by the Wilberian bloggers) seem to barely understand conservative anything (while likewise thinking they are more
cognitively evolved than conservatism, giggle giggle).


The same in question is (according to him) the similar pattern of non-comprehension of conservatives by "Wilberians" (same as with liberals).

My comment was a question: who constitutes this group "Wilberians" (Wilberian bloggers).

Matthew's response stated that Wilberians are those:
"who like his work, have adopted his jargon, and blog positively about
it."
Assuming that's not tautological, my central point was to ask for specific names (as he did with both conservatives and liberal bloggers). Which he didn't give me. Leaving open the question as to whether this assertion was in any way valid--because again this category is far too vague to be of any use, how would anyone make a determination? Who are these folks--specifically?

Recall also that is Matthew's take on what is Wilberian (a term I believe he coined). Some who like Wilber's work, adopted some aspects of his philosophical terminology ("jargon" derisively) and blog positively about his work would not consider themselves Wilberian. Joe Perez for one. [For what it's worth Wilber refers to his work under the acronym AQAL.]

But anyway that aside, and even aside from whether his original argument that "Wilberians" don't get conservatives is right or wrong, I want to focus on this piece:

[Wilberians] seem to barely understand conservative anything (while likewise thinking they are more cognitively evolved than conservatism, giggle giggle).

The cognitively more evolved piece is what I'm going to hone in on.

Within this "jargon" the cognitive line is the line that represents the development of the person's awareness of "What is?" That is why it is said (again in this "jargon") that the cognitive line sets the potential for the other lines of development. Necessary but not sufficient condition. No other line of development (with the possible exception of kinesthetic) races out ahead of the cognitive.

e.g.
Moral line: [Of what you see] What is moral?
Aesthetic: [Of what you see/are aware of] What is beautiful?
Values: [Of what you see] What is valuable (more valuable, less valuable, etc.)

All of which assume the space of cognition--i.e. the Of what you see/are aware of portion.

"What is" is not the same as being "smart". Or in this case getting political arguments. This is the mistake Matthew (seems to me) is making. He's conflating the two. To say someone is more cognitively evolved only means they are aware of more. That doesn't mean they understand or explain that more better. [Or even the "less" that others are aware of either]. Or design policies for that more better.

Some kinds of smarts I can think of:
--Book smarts.
--Street smarts.
--Business smarts.
--"People" smarts ("Life"/Interpersonal/Emotional smarts)
--Technical smarts (e.g. motorcycle mechanic)

I see no evidence that higher cognitive (What is?) functioning has an automatic correlation with more effective sense of any of those. For this context, book smarts seems to fit best with Matthew is describing. And certainly there of all places, book smarts does not equal cognition per se. Expressing both higher cognition and (in this example) book smarts/learning would be ideal no doubt.

Again even within this frame there is the difference between adequacy at a level and brilliance and even genius within a level. But why bother with the nuances when you can just so superciliously dismiss the whole thing---and ignorantly to boot. Hell I take that back, not even the nuance, the flippin' basics, the 101 of this theory. That Matthew can't exhibit such a basic grasp, should raise red flags for the rest of his criticisms concerning said viewpoint.

En basico, someone could certainly be have developed into higher cognitive levels and not "get" conservatives. And that wouldn't prove they aren't more cognitively evolved.

Stages are stations of life. Questions like those Matthew are raising generally have to do with translation and less to do with the vertical stage elements.


Those who develop, I would argue, into an integral wave cognitively open to them a way of seeing politically that is not bound by the traditional demarcations of liberal or conservative. But it's only a potential. It's not automatic.


My answer to the question I am a liberal or a conservative is: "No. I'm not."

Not to mention, particularly with politics more than the cognitive line (I'm still relying on the "jargon") is at work (in my mind). Values/Emotional sensitivity play a major role, as I see it. And someone with a integral cognitive frame could have a lower value structure (say green) that probably doesn't understand "conservatives" because such people tend to cut off the "conservative" parts of themselves.

Most of these political debates are not cognitive clashes per se (although that can occur) but usually--in my opinion/experience--values and emotional clashes. Particularly the more partisan and identified with a certain viewpoint the author is....e.g. many of those on the list named by Matthew would fit that profile for me.

They first look for facts that fit their preconceived model. Whether or not they understand the other side better is less of an issue to me than the prior move of so many of these writers. First they decide (for whatever reasons) that one such view is right---then go about attacking anything that disagrees with that and cherry-picking (consciously/unconsciously) evidence that supports that point of view. Usually their evidence does bolster their case. On both sides. The problem is the lack of honesty facing the evidence/facts that undermine their own position (as the one shot/theory solution to all). I don't see any proof liberals or conservatives have a monopoly on that front.

All that to say, for argument's sake, if we accept the framework of this "jargon" then we see that from within its own parameters, the criticism Matthew makes doesn't land. Proving that someone doesn't "get" conservative (whatever that may or may not mean...a completely different discussion), doesn't mean they aren't cognitively more evolved.

I'll end on a pacific note: I do agree with Matthew that's it good to read both conservatives and liberals...as well I add as those who are pointing beyond the exclusivity of both.

---
PS---which "Wilberian" thinks they "know everything integrally?" I sure as hell don't know everything integrally. In fact I don't even really know what that means.

PPS--Which kind(s) of conservatism(s) is it that "Wilberians" (whoever they are) don't get?

10 Comments:

At 12:46 PM, Blogger Joe Perez said...

My blog comment:

In "Late Night thoughts: Head shaking edition", Chris of Indistinct Union makes the point that totality that which one is aware of is the proper object of the cognitive line of development, not mere "book smarts". Yes, yes, of course, yes.

But sometimes I wonder if proofreading skills might just be a separate line of development that I have skipped over? ;-)

 
At 12:10 PM, Anonymous md said...

This is the mistake Matthew (seems to me) is making. He's conflating the two. To say someone is more cognitively evolved only means they are aware of more. That doesn't mean they understand or explain that more better.

A thousand words and you still make no sense. Liberals are not aware of more if they aren't meaningfully aware of what conservatives are about.

 
At 3:18 PM, Blogger CJ Smith said...

MD,

First off I didn't say liberals are necessarily more cognitively evolved.

That you are locked into that being my position says more I think about you than me.

Even from within this frame, (which I think has some though not total merit)

liberal and conservative can mean different things.

1)different types at the same level. Liberals tend to push towards the progressive (transformative) side. Conservatives tend to emphasize the conservative (translative). Both of these are necessary. Everyone will find their own flavor/balance.

By this definition liberals are not more cognitively evolved than conservatives and vice versa. That you (to my mind) never take this definition into account with your criticisms of "Wilberian" thought should give pause to the reader.

2)This definition---liberal (again old/classical liberal? or new liberal?) being a higher stage (orange-green) than conservative (orange or blue). But new conservative is more or less old liberal. With the difference being generally more value put on the interiors (at that level) from new cons, more on exteriors from old libs, but that is very flexible and not a solid set in stone law.

But that definition is itself mitigated by the notion of a 1st tier. Wherein each stage is unaware of any other stage in that stage. Green does not recognize orange. Vice versa. Orange not blue, blue not green, green not blue, etc. etc. That bunches them all in a way that relatives any talk of higher/lower within that octave.

This is how I can agree with you that liberals (in this second sense) don't get conservatives and there can be more cognitive evolution. And that doesn't necessarily make them smarter. And depends on whether you mean healthy/unhealthy forms of each (liberal and conservative).

None of which you define or are willing (it seems to me) to look into.

And yes I still am pox on both houses type so this whole issue is really a side one for me.

That aside, the "more" again is not more facts, more stuff, more theories, or explanations as you seem to want it to be.

It is only a reference to the space. I distinguish between awareness and attention/focus. Your describing (in my terms) attention. I didn't say liberals are more attentive than conservatives.

Awareness is simply the space. Attention is about the focus on content within the space of consciousness/being. Being more cognitively "evolved" does not in and of itself mean really much of anything. Or very little in my book. More potential than anything. Particularly when discussing so-named first-tier mentalities.

Awareness/attention is just another rife on the two truths (absolute and relative respectively). If you don't understand the two truths experientially, you will not get where I'm coming from. I can't state it more simply than that.

Not to mention that relatively for me it is more about values than anything else including cognition-- although cog. tends to be the default for center of gravity/shorthand.

Plenty of conservatives cognitively (space-wise not just content-wise) grasp what I am discussing. Conservatives by the second definition that is.

My interest is less cognitive than what values/morals are promoted. Cognition (even "smarts") can be deployed to any value system.

And I think yes the value systems do follow a gradation. And I do think it makes sense to talk about a shift from a first to a second tier---even if someone doesn't like that language (which I'm not married to) I think what it points to is real. Real enough.

Peace.

Chris

 
At 3:39 PM, Anonymous md said...

If you agree that liberals are not more cognitively evolved and are not more aware than conservatives, on average, then most of my battle is achieved. It is up to you to follow this to its inevitable reasonable conclusions.

The rest of your muddying up of the waters I have little desire to slog through, and I wish you well this day.

md

 
At 12:52 PM, Blogger CJ Smith said...

MD,

That was an interesting take I must say on what transpired.

My recollection (Senator) is the following:

--I never took a position pro/con whether liberals know conservatives better or vice versa.

--I was writing to say that your criticism (such as it was) of "Wilberians" (whoever they may be) was based on a faulty understanding of Wilber's writings. And/or if there are any people who fit your criticism and "Wilberian" profile (how would we know? names?), then they poorly understand Wilber as well.

Because liberal/conservative (in that language) has three meanings, 2 of which do not imply higher cognitive, one of which may but again depends on what kind of liberal and conservative you mean.

Red liberals are value-wise less developed than blue conservatives, for example.

None of which you will deal with because you continue to use these rather vague and undefined words (non-altitudinal): just liberal and conservative.

All I was saying was if you're going to criticize, at least get the thing right before you criticize it--otherwise you end up criticizing some straw man of your creation.

I'm not a liberal or a conservative (in your terms), so I don't find myself needing to follow to any "reasonable" conclusion.

To me those two are more like tools in a kit (one maybe a hammer, one a screwdriver). I'm not pro-hammer or anti-screwdriver (or versa vice); I think the trick is to know when you need a hammer and when you need a screwdriver and use them appropriately.

A good day to you too sir.

Peace.

Chris

 
At 2:02 PM, Anonymous md said...

I really doubt I poorly understand Wilber, given that I studied his works for the better part of seven years, was cited (while at I.I.) as one of the better Wilber scholars, was director of a domain/center/school/node/whatever, wrote upwards of 250 pages of scholarship incorporating Wilberian ideas, spent two years on thrice-weekly conference calls about his ideas, went one and one with Mr Balderdash himself on more than one occasion, etc etc etc.

Like so many Wilberians (yes, people who like his work and write/blog positively about it, a simple name I doubt I coined), you have a hard time with disagreement. I can't just be wrong about something, I must "poorly understand it". In other words, it's about me, not the ideas/arguments I forward. Bullshit on stilts. Typical. Typical, too, that you obfuscate with your 1000+ word entires that change the subject and introduced uncommonly held distinctions whenever your purposes (what are those, anyway?) are suited.

Look at how much you butchered your attempt at a definition (a couple months back) of classical liberalism. Which I called you on. And you, as a Wilberian, claim to actually know conservativism with such a shoddy understanding of its undergirding in classical liberal thought? Please. Even your invented definitions of conservatism on this thread are just too silly to even engage. There are oodles of actual conservatives (not you) who engage at length in tracts that define what the movement entails. As a typical Wilberian, you cite none of them, and instead have the cheap, hyper masculine chutzpah to think you are above all that with your endless hairsplitting, invented colors, air of authority and useful-only-to-you distinctions that evaporate and morph as necessary. Hammer, screwdriver, altitudes --- who the fuck cares, Chris. Politics is about none of that.

This is perhaps the most evasive:

--I never took a position pro/con whether liberals know conservatives better or vice versa.

Sure you did, by using Spiral Dynamics' kid-tested, Wilber-approved colors that are defined by just that (orange/green = progressive/liberals, blue/orange = conservatives). Which I believe you have done, as far as I can tell, ever since you started blogging about politics.

And lastly:

I'm not a liberal or a conservative

Riiiiiiight, Mr I don't believe in small gov't or large gov't, rather SMART gov't -- which is Obama's line you endorsed and which happens to be liberal/progressive to the T in sheep's clothing.

 
At 3:33 PM, Blogger CJ Smith said...

wow. ok. also interesting for different reasons. maybe a different tact.

--the context in question was politics...I was saying you didn't make a good case for knowing Wilber's writings on politics (esp. his more recent stuff), not anything else.

I don't have a problem with disagreement (see?), I'm disagreeing right here. You didn't get "Wilberianism" (on politics) right, so let's cut the bs there.

I can only repeat this point, I did not take a position--minus your assertion otherwise--who knows which better. [You missed the "red" liberals again btw].

Plus, you still do not understand the difference between cognition and book smarts ("knowing"). Awareness/attention.

All of what I'm writing in this thread (not perhaps others) depends on a notion of worldspaces, kosmic addresses, etc. That itself depends on the prior notion of the Two Truths. Which I brought up and you ignored.

If I'm wrong and there are no worldspaces, then your right and what I said here becomes (mostly) nonsense.

You don't buy that notion. I think it has limited though important value. I think we always some way or another get back to this point.

--Other stuff.

My purpose you may recall was to get you to use specific names for your criticism, so those criticized could (if they desired) respond and other readers could read your arguments, others responses, to make up their own minds. As simple as that.

--

The smart government does make a certain amount of sense to me, depending on the context. I have a strong instinct that I understand "smart" differently than Obama however. Smart mostly means for me de-centralized networked resiliency.

I think its the least worst option and if nothing else necessary for human survival in this century.

But that's my own preference, that is not determined by integral. As I've said before I think government is a necessary evil and all other things being equal better to have it run smarter rather than dumber.

I think it was better when Clinton and Newt brought a budgetary surplus than when George W. and the K Street DeLay Reps. brought massive debt. But that's still the beast no doubt.

I'd rather we not had the beast such as it is, but I don't see much pull for that, so in the meantime, a lesser goal.

But for all your bluster, we're actually closer than you think. My own position is probably more republican (little r).

I heard Daniel Deudney on Bloggingheads say that the Democrats are the Party of Government and the Republicans are the Party of State.

And by state he means the national security apparatus, 19th century European notions of the State. In that sense, as I've said many times, I am not either.

Except while I put more emphasis on republicanism (rule of law, separation of powers, free press, pluralistic society), the state and the government are there and have to be dealt with.

Particularly given the fact of mass urban society in the 20-21st century (government) and the rise of totalitarianism and now international terrorism (national security apparatus). So I'd rather smart than dumb government and smart than dumb state.

Though I do not identify with either and am not naive about the pull for bureaucracies to aggregate more and more power to themselves.

The Founding Fathers came before those twin movements I just outlined. The Constitution is primary for me in the US context (republicanism or classical liberal in your terms) but these other factors (state and government) are as I've said necessary evils. Or if not neces. evil, then they respond to a real need, even if they have a tendency to spin out of control and cause new problems.

This would sorta put me in the libertarian camp, except for the following. Deudnay goes on to criticize contemporary libertarians for being too focused on state economic regulation and not on the question of freedom from violence. I think that's very accurate.

Or they assume, in concert with neocons like Bill Kristol and Wolfowitz, that if you just deregulate international economic standards, then democracies will starting springing up everywhere.

Democracy though of course is not automatically republicanism. Nor is republicanism equatable with modernity per se.

In other words we can not view American politics outside of the global context. We will not have freedom from violence until other countries enter a rule of law state. [Why I'm not an isolationist].

Which does lead me back to worldspaces and interior development. Because unlike Deudnay I am not a historical materialist. I don't think viewing means of control of violence (his view) nor means of control of production (classical Marxist) nor spread of global connectivity (Barnett) alone drives the engine and guarantees success. Although they have huge influence that is never absent.

So you can make all your hyper-masculine, I don't know my stuff comments my friend. I'll let others decide. Hint when I'm writing integral I'm dealing with the wide angle picture, the details of which are filled in by the other posts dealing often with specific theorists from a broad range of traditions and political points of view.

Peace.

Chris

 
At 10:41 AM, Anonymous md said...

You didn't get "Wilberianism" (on politics) right, so let's cut the bs there.

I have gotten nothing wrong about Wilberian politics. And I didn't miss "red" anything. As a rule, I ignore anything having remotely to do with Spiral Dynamics. You can use those terms as much as you like in our disagreements. Whenever you do, just know I will pass right over those.

Plus, you still do not understand the difference between cognition and book smarts ("knowing"). Awareness/attention.

It is a dumb distinction, so I glossed over it before. You would have no way of proving liberals are more aware than conservatives. No liberals I have met are that way, and liberals are the larger group of friends and acquaintances.

All of what I'm writing in this thread (not perhaps others) depends on a notion of worldspaces, kosmic addresses, etc. That itself depends on the prior notion of the Two Truths. Which I brought up and you ignored.

Because it is new age rah rah that has nothing to do with politics. I could bring up chord progressions and tie those into politics, and I bet you would ignore that, too, which you should. I am not going to answer to all your endless water-muddying. I've seen this strategy used time and time again by Wilberians. Get evasive, obfuscate, write at length, change the topic, introduce uncommonly held micro-definitions -- it is all unresponsible -- unable to be responded to. It is the mark of Wilberian thought.

If I'm wrong and there are no worldspaces, then your right and what I said here becomes (mostly) nonsense.

No shit, though scratch mostly. You should also consider that worldspaces, even if valid in some semiotic way, are practically useless tools in the political sphere.

My purpose you may recall was to get you to use specific names for your criticism, so those criticized could (if they desired) respond and other readers could read your arguments, others responses, to make up their own minds. As simple as that.

And I just didn't want to, which I should be allowed not to do, if that is my desire. If you like, though, a partial list of the Wilberians I was talking about consists of the two people who commented on my original blog entry (beside myself, that is). But there are many others.

But for all your bluster, we're actually closer than you think. My own position is probably more republican (little r).

It isn't bluster. It is yet another attempt to knock some sense into you, and knock Wilber out.

I'm not a republican, though I may vote for one for president. I am a conservative, though. I really doubt we are as close as you want us to be. And have wanted us to be for a long time (which has creeped me out from the beginning). I'm not interested in agreement with you; if it happens, fine. I'm interested in good faith, intellectual honesty, and intellectual clarity. Usually that means debate and disagreement without impugning character (something you, and so many Wilberians) are so used to doing (via psychographs, attacks on motivation, and other means of projection) you don't even realize you are doing it. You and the rest of the Wilberians have zero talent for reading between the lines; instead, you insert your own projections and it leaves me, for one, feeling largely helpless, alone, and irritated. Your blind spots are so large you miss them completely. And you, in particular, associate with someone (I'm not talking about Wilber) who is of such low integrity that it mystifies me about what your true character is, though my hunch is that yours in honorable. Anyway.

I heard Daniel Deudney on Bloggingheads say that the Democrats are the Party of Government and the Republicans are the Party of State.

Well, know we are maybe getting somewhere. But that distinction, too, is really quite silly. Dude. Political parties are mechanisms for tribal voting consensus. They are not philosophical entities. Conservatism is not a political party; it is a somewhat loose-knit umbrella that is largely philosophical.

The best, and only, way to define the two current political parties are to see what each's platforms are at a given time. Those issues, and the disagreements/agreements that led to their inclusion in the platforms, are the means that consensus is achieved, the consensus that defines the party.

There is no need for any high falutin, philosophical reaching for abstract distinction that you are so fond of to define demoncrats and republicans.

The same is not true for conservatism and liberalism, though. These are philosophically driven. And to define conservatism as concerned with the State (and liberalism with gov't) is silly. Both are concerned with both. Both opine about both. Both propose solutions for both.

That's all I have to say right now. Except to note how little Wilberian thought has to say about anything truly concrete and relevent, which is the direction we, maybe, have started to go here.

 
At 11:56 AM, Blogger CJ Smith said...

MD,

I was talking about republicanism little r, in terms of a position I was staking out. Not big R, the party.

The comment about the two parties was their dominant trajectory. Both of which as I took Deudnay's implication to be, were disconnected in important ways from the deeper issue of the republican (little r) tradition.

I didn't say the two parties were philosophical entities. But I would say they include such. Certainly your right they have a strong tribal element, as you put it, and are out after votes and power. But there are substantive theoretical divisions involved as well.

The platforms may be the best way to determine the parties but I don't agree that is the only way. For one where do the platforms come from? You say agreements & disagreements, but my hunch is that those are sourced to some degree in deeper philosophical questioning and assumptions.

People get into politics no doubt for power (esp. the higher up one goes), but politicians also get in to make actual changes, to use that power to enact ends/goals they have in mind. And those ends are shaped by philosophical thinking, gut instincts, and the like.

I remember in a trialogue between you, me, and another person (can't recall who just now) on this same general subject it was my sense that person #3 tended to almost equate party with political theory while you wanted to (in my mind) basically separate them.

My position is somewhere in between. It's true that the thinking can be and is separate from a political party, e.g. in a think tank or personal identification: a self-identified conservative may or may not vote for a Republican.

Still, to my mind, the ideas only gain serious wider-scale traction through some form of incarnation via the major parties.

That's why I think the point about one party being predominantly the party of government and the other the party of national security is important. Because then neither party is the party of republicanism (lil' r).

I didn't say conservatism is the party of the state and liberalism is the party of government. That would be a ridiculous statement, as you rightly point out. I said Republicans and Democrats are. Seems to me you're committing the error you so adamantly oppose: equating party with political philosophy.

I don't really like the terms conservatism and liberalism per se because I think there are so many shades and kinds of each (and I would dare say levels of each but I know that will be ignored) that by themselves they are too vague.

But to the degree it does make sense to use the "c" and the "l" word, then first off I don't identify as either. On certain issues I'm tend more towards one, on others in the opposite direction. You will I imagine disagree with that assessment and continue to try to portray me as a liberal--and not a classical one at that I surmise. So be it.

One thing that I think is at the crux of our difference is that I'm more a strategist/long term planner with a heavy dose of pragmatism. I'm not particularly concerned about party identification nor even political philosophical identification. I'll take ideas wherever I find them that I think are good ones.

It seems to me that you are more of a political purist. I don't mean that in a negative light. Just an observation.

I'm not going to go after any of the Wilber stuff--that's clearly going nowhere.

Only to say that I find it interesting that you are about "knocking some sense into me" (which it seems you think is inversely proportional to the degree you knock Wilber out of me).

I have never gone after changing your pov. Truth be told I don't think there's anything on God's green earth I could say or point out that would change your mind.

Rather when you make criticisms against povs I feel are important/thoughtful, I go about trying to point out what I perceive to be the flaws in your criticisms. It's mostly defensive. Aikido like.

My point was not about agreeing, but more agreeing to disagree. Agreeing that we both reach a rock-bottom core belief we have, that shapes how we see things, and neither of us is going to change. Then let the readers enter the mindsets of both us and walk around in our shoes (to mix metaphors) and let them decide what are the consequences of our rock-bottom positions. What I call "abductions."

But even that, rather circumscribed goal, seems like a bridge too far at this point.

In terms of the other, more personal issues, I think that is best handled through personal email. Which I'll be glad to respond to if you want to open that thread. You brought up issues related to feelings and concerns about projections, etc. and those I feel ought to be confronted.

I did not however find you bringing up this unnamed person of (so you say) ill-motives and then leaving that fairly serious charge out there as very honorable, to use your words.

Peace.

Chris

 
At 2:10 PM, Anonymous md said...

I did not however find you bringing up this unnamed person of (so you say) ill-motives and then leaving that fairly serious charge out there as very honorable, to use your words.

Oh, well, I've been flamed, insulted, insinuated against, vilified, mocked, and personally harassed by the person in question that I really don't care that you feel my indicating this in the way I have is not very honorable. I have held my breath on this matter for at least two years, hoping you would disassociate, so consider this a last resort.

The rest we'll pick up at a later date. Thank you for leaving out the Wilberian stuff in this last comment.

md

 

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